Pet Shop Boys

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Yes Review

by David Jeffries

Coming down from the ambitious, politically charged Fundamental, Yes is the sound of the Pet Shop Boys unwinding and returning to their usual fascinations: isolation, fashion, grand arrangements, and witty synth pop anthems. Unfortunately, they're in a slump with their songwriting, and subject-wise, every song here has a companion piece on some earlier album, but that doesn't mean the party is spoiled. The delicate electro opener "Love Etc." is PSB perfection with its memorable hook and faultless construction. Brian Higgins and his Xenomania team (Saint Etienne, Girls Aloud) share songwriting and production duties on the track, and while that later credit continues for the remainder of the album, the hip crew becomes invisible as singer Tennant and synth-man Lowe take over. Employing an Abbey Road orchestra and hiring Johnny Marr for some Hollywood guitar seems a familiar Pet Shop Boys maneuver, and when Neil Tennant tops it off with some sardonic lyrics, "Beautiful People" becomes a pleasingly comfortable gift for any fan thrown by Fundamental's action committee attitude. "Did You See Me Coming" is the exhilarated infatuation of "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Sort of Thing" all over again, while "King of Rome" is the spitting image of the duo's 1987 chestnut "King's Cross." These are good things, especially for the sworn fan, and so are the few quirky new ideas, like the duo trading lines Run-D.M.C. style on "Building a Wall." The grand closer "Legacy" is the obvious songwriting highlight, partly because of the Kurt Weill-like breakdown in the middle, but mostly because of the grim way it comforts the brokenhearted. Neil proposes that glaciers melt and stars burn out so there's a pretty good chance that given time "you'll get over it." It's much better than the "Is that a riot/or are you just glad to see me" line in "Pandemonium" and just the touch Yes needs to put this above the standard PSB album.

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